“You need to get her out of there, Charlotte!” Hank yells at me, as if I’m not already trying my best to figure out why everything has suddenly gone wrong.
What could possibly have gone wrong? We got back into the system, after a whole lot of work with some of our best systems analysts, and we managed to keep anyone from being able to track Eve for well past the amount of time I thought we could, but now, all of a sudden, first her tracking dot shows her as being on the entirely opposite side of California from where we thought she was, and a whole series of tanks and helicopters and I’m not even sure what else are all bearing down on this new location.
Obviously, something has gone seriously wrong.
“Charlotte,” Hank says obnoxiously, as though there is any single thing I’m able to do at this point.
“I’m doing whatever I can, Hank,” I say through clenched teeth. This is stressful enough without him sitting over my back making me think everything I’m doing is wrong. “I’ve disrupted radio communications all throughout that area, so it should be a bit harder for them to be able to communicate. And, I’m hoping, it should make it more difficult for them to track her as well.”
“But who are those guys? It’s not M&L, is it?”
“I don’t know. They just showed up. But their tracking signatures are like nothing else I’ve seen in this system.”
“What does that mean?”
“I don’t know, Hank!”
I’m instantly regretting how I reacted. In my defense, I am attempting to save a defenseless girl from being taken in by an army of folks who will, undoubtedly, do all sorts of terrible things to her. And I don’t have any ideas left. And they’re getting closer. Every second they are getting closer and I don’t know what I can do about it.
“They’re here,” a young man named Gary says from across the room.
“Great!” Hank claps his hands in anticipation. “Maybe we can get some answers about what’s going on from them.”
“Perfect,” I mutter, still typing and clicking away in the hopes I can find something in this crazed over-powerful system with which to do something. “This is their system, right? Maybe they can tell me how to use it.”
But Hank’s already gone.
I feel helpless. We’ve been able to access these systems for years, ever since Bruno first got caught up in all of this mess with M&L and Miss Nile and came to us with what he had found. But in all that time, we haven’t really come up with much of what we can do with them. Even what we did know got lost when the systems went down last week and we were stuck sticking every single computer nerd we could on trying to break us back in.
They did, kinda. They found a backdoor system with some pretty hefty authentication requirements where they were able to build a tunnel for us to peek through, whatever that means. What it does mean is that all of the programs we built off the system before are gone and we’re stuck trying to poke our way around manually.
And I know just enough command line to be able to get into trouble. Maybe.
But with Miss Nile and Alvin here, perhaps we really do stand a chance. We could force them to stop the attack on Eve, for one. And then explain to us how to use the systems for another.
Just imagine what all we could do if we had full access to these systems.
It would be incredible.
My screen flashes a message in bright red and bold letters. “Mom, meet me at Lake Shasta Medical. Bring Dad”. The message only appears briefly before the words “Timeout, server not responding” appear. They are quickly followed by the words “Fatal Error: Lost connection to the remote system”.
Go to Epilogue: Hank Rhodes